4 Nov 2011

Choc-o-licious: Chocolate Festival, Bruges.

Today I got to experience one of the perks of living in Belgium ànd being a blogger: I'd been invited to the press event of Choco-Laté, the chocolate festival in Bruges.

Choco-Laté is a festival aimed at professionals, devoted chocolate fans ànd more casual ones. As a self-proclaimed healthy hedonist and passionate chocolate lover, I have been there in the past and I can testify it's a treat, a true feast for the senses.

This year's edition will focus on chocolate in its purest form: the origins of the cacao bean, organic fair-trade chocolate and authentic recipes prepared on the spot by representatives of the Kuna people of Panama.

Choco-Laté organiser Eddy Van Belle,
chocolatier Dominique Persoone &
representatives of the Kuna people.
The Kuna people have featured in several medical reports because of the absence of high blood pressure among them and remarkably low death rates from stroke, cancer or cardiovascular disease. This might be linked to their cocoa-rich diet, which is an interesting path for further research.
But I digress.

At this festival you can discover visually stunning chocolate art, learn about the origins, production, health and wellness benefits of chocolate, sample chunks and nuggets at a wide variety of exhibitor booths, or get your hands dirty (and lick them clean again) in truffle-making workshops. All this takes place in a unique historic location, permeated with the rich, velvety scent of more kinds of chocolate than you and I knew existed.

Trust me, it's not an event you want to miss.

'Choco en Lala'
book cover chocolates
The parents among you don't need to find a babysitter. Take your kids along and drop them off at the Choco Kids Village, where they can play and learn about chocolate while you indulge in more adult activities. Allow me to make a few suggestions: find the perfect wine to go with chocolate, design the perfect cocoa drink or watch the bodypainting artists at work - with chocolate!

When you're at the festival, be sure to drop by author Marc de Bel's booth. At Choco-Laté 2011 he will present his new chocolate-themed children's book: 'Spikkel en Spekkie: Choco en Lala'.

(Come to think of it, chocolate should play a much bigger part in my novel!)

'Bruges swan'
chocolate dress.
At first sight, fashion and (calorie-dense) chocolate might not be a good match, but this year even fashionistas will be able to indulge.

Star designer Nicky Vankets, known to yours truly because of his gorgeous wedding dresses (I got married last year - did I mention I ♥ his 'White Couture' collection?), has teamed up with my favourite 'shock-o-latier' Dominique Persoone to design a fabulous 'Bruges swan' chocolate dress.

I so want one. Or two: one to wear and one to eat.
But I digress again.

Choco-Laté 2011 will take place at the Bruges belfry from 11th till 13th November.
For more information and tickets, go to: http://www.choco-late.be/en.

If you can't make those dates, do not despair. Bruges has 52 (hyper)active chocolatiers, who sell their scrumptious creations all year round.

On top of that, until 8 December 2011, the city of Bruges celebrates "Choc'in Brugge" - chocolate month, if you will, with gastronomic events, chocolate-themed city walks, chocolate wellness and much more. You can find the programme here.

Last but not least, if you live too far and can't make it to Belgium this year, have some great chocolate wherever you are and consider stopping by in the future.
When you do, drop me a line and I'd be happy to point out a number of places that are worth a visit.

Have a choc-o-licious November!

Bonus picture. From left to right:
shock-o-latier Dominique Persoone, fashion designer Nicky Vankets
and yours truly, plotting an escape with The Dress.
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  1. I don't even know what to say. All that chocolate in one place and I'm not there? That's just wrong.

    Wow, wow, wow that dress! I don't know how they did that. It's gorgeous. Looks good enough to...eat. :)

    You know I have to go raid my cupboards now for some leftover Halloween candy. Sigh. No comparison. But I will get my Belgian chocolates soon enough. Your country won't know what hit it. Ha!

  2. L.G.: I know! I'd save you some, but chocolate's better consumed fresh and it's a shame to make it travel. Dominique Persoone has a chocolate shop in Bruges, though, so we can try to go there if you've got enough time in Belgium. :-)
    Click here for extra motivation. ;-)

  3. Nice... Also funny to read that your old teacher 'meester Marc' has a booth there, and that you can refer to his new book on your blog. It's a small world!

  4. Lieve: yes, I thought that was funny too. :-) It's a small world indeed, and an even smaller country we live in. :-)

  5. wait a minute? You go to the chocolate festival, do not invite us or take us with you and than have a face to rub our noses with the photos!!!! Scandal, scandal I say. The only way to redeem yourself is to send us a box of Belgium chocolate. Two for me, since I'm of a sensitive kind!

  6. DEZZY: in my defence, this wasn't the actual festival yet, only the press event. It's appalling they didn't have a HOLLYWOOD SPY there; the event could really use one.
    I'll let them know so they can fix that for next year! :-)

  7. Ohh - let me at it! I've always known about the medical benefits of good chocolate and try to convince everyone else. Even won a competition a few years back when I wrote about it and its origins. We visited Antwerp some years ago and guess where I headed? Bought lots of gorgeous chocs from the Chocolatier to bring home and ended up eating ours AND the chocs for gifts!

  8. Rosemary: that sounds familiar. Many years ago I studied in Germany and when I went back there after I'd been home for Christmas, I took several boxes of Belgian chocolates as gifts. None of them lived to meet their new owners. ;-)

  9. I love that photograph of you, K.C.-- the clearest picture I've seen of you, yet, and it quite changed my mental impression! (You look like someone who would be very fun to get to know. Not that I didn't think this, before.)

    So. Did you make it away with that amazing chocolate creation? ;)

    This was a very unique post.

  10. Suze: first time I've come out of my hidey-hole. :-)
    As far as I know, the dress is still safe, i.e. not in my possession and therefore more likely to be intact. :-)

  11. You are my idol!! I will be there in my dreams. In the meantime, have an extra sampling or two for me.

  12. I am probably one of the only people on earth that doesn't care too much for chocolate. It's OK, but I prefer other types of sweets....but this post really highlighted some incredible things! Thank you!!

    And thanks for your visit! :)

  13. Robyn: I'm still there - in my dreams! Will do! :-)

    Maggie: that's okay. :-) I can (almost) understand that because I don't like beer (which, as a Belgian, is something I don't often say out loud ;-) ). Still, there are so many types and flavours around, I'm sure Your Chocolate is out there. =)

  14. I've been to Bruges and, although I've not been on a big chocolate bonanza like that, we were taken on the tourist 'come and watch us make some chocolate' trail. It was amazing. I can still remember the amazing aromas and so I can't imagine what your visit must have smelt like... heaven!

  15. what an amazing dress!

    and with all those health benefits of chocolate, well, I just need to eat more of it...

  16. Rosalind: that's definitely one of the greatest things at the festival: those aromas. I almost like them more than the flavours, because I can take in much more and it's more forgiving to the waist. :-)

    Juliet: I like how you think. =)

    Munk: where can I sign up?


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